How to escape from a car underwater

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Read The Washington Post

For those who might find themselves underwater in their cars, Burton offered this advice:

  • Open the window as fast as possible — before you hit the water, if you can, or immediately afterward.
  • Stay still, with your seat belt on, until the water in the car goes up to your chin. Then take several slow, deep breaths and hold one.
  • Do not try to open the door until the water has stopped flooding into the car. Initially, the water outside will put pressure on the door of up to 600 pounds a square inch, meaning you won’t be able to open it from the inside. The pressure inside and outside the car should equalize about the time you start holding your breath.
  • If you can’t open a door and you’re trying to break a window instead, aim for a side window, never the windshield. Windshields are several layers thicker.
  • Don’t take off your seat belt until you have opened a door or window. Grip the steering wheel before you unbuckle. You’ll need something keeping you tethered so that you can pull yourself out of the car.
  • Once you’re out of the vehicle, let your body take you to the surface. As Burton put it: “Don’t worry about going up or down. When you take all those deep breaths and hold it, it’s like you’re inflating a balloon.”

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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